Dinosaur Cranial Function and Evolution

In collaboration with Casey Holliday (University of Missouri), Larry Witmer (Ohio University), and Julian Davis (University of Southern Indiana), we are beginning an NSF-funded project to study the evolution of cranial kinesis across the non-avian theropod dinosaur to bird transition.

Cranial kinesis (movement among the bones of the skull, excepting the jaw) required a significant reorganization of skeletal tissues and was likely a major evolutionary factor in the highly diverse feeding apparatus and ultimately the diversification of modern birds. The goal of this project is to understand the bioechanical environment of the feeding system.

We will generate accurate 3D musculoskeletal models of heads across the dinosaur to bird transition and use these models to estimate muscle forces and joint loads.